FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do we charge for our 3D printing?


The main driver for price is weight. Weight is based on the amount of material that the part has and as a result the amount of time the machine will take to turn the powder into solid.




What is the maximum size part you can print?


Stainless (316 and 15-5) it is 245 x 245 x 280mm Inconel it is 245 x 245 x 335mm Titanium it is 275 x 275 x 345mm (all sizes are X x Y x Z)




Will my part be 3D printed with other parts and how does this affect the pricing and lead time?


We aim to fill a plate with a mixture of client parts and base our pricing on achieving this. The only time we charge more for 3D printing a part is when it is needed in a shorter timeframe. The extra charge is often for weekend staff time. Our normal lead time is 3 weeks.




What file format is best?


We work the following file formats; iges, STEP, Parasolid etc and native Solidworks files. The software we use to do our lattice work requires an STL file, so a good quality STL file works well.




Can any part be selectively laser melted?


Generally yes, although success in SLM depends a lot on the shape of the part. Parts that have intricate details which are difficult to machine or contain areas of curves and complex surfaces, lend themselves well to SLM manufacturing.




What are the design restrictions?


3D manufacturing enables design freedom. This allows designers and engineers to follow where their imagination takes them. The printing process simply follows this design freedom, easily and cost-effectively producing complex, high spec pieces that traditional manufacturing processes could simply not produce.




Quality Control


Quality control is an important part of the design and manufacturing process, with finished pieces needing to be consistently reliable. We run tensile bars and test every build. This enables us to ensure the build process meets specification but also tracks general production processes over a long period of time.





TECHNICAL - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do you have a minimum wall thickness for each material?


They are mostly similar although Titanium will tend to buckle with thin walls over distance (the distance depends on thickness and shape). The other materials will also do this but to a lesser extent. This is related to the thermal conductivity – Titanium is a poor thermal conductor so suffers most from this. The wall thickness depends on the shape and the part. It is possible to do 0.18mm wall thickness however this is not ideal, 0.3 – 0.5mm is better however these may still buckle depending on shape. The issue is often greatly reduced (fixed) via a lattice structure or a stiffening beam (not big and may be removable).




Should I design solid parts, or can I work with you to create hollowed out structures with lattice infill?


Talk to us about hollow parts and lattice infills and we will advise what is the best option for your part. We encourage complex shapes. We encourage complex shapes, so we do suggest if keeping a part solid, then only keep the material that is needed for the performance and strength of the part. Lattice infill is a very effective method to remove a lot of weight from a part (and often cost if left solid) without the designer needing to create complex and time-consuming pocketing or cavities.




Does a lattice add much cost?


The customer pays for the material used, so while the lattice is not free, it will not add any disproportionate cost to the print, and often can result in a cheaper print due to global weight savings. A lattice part is certainly cheaper than a solid part but more than a completely hollow part.




With the infill, how do I specify its style and density.


The lattice can be made in many structures. Most companies will either say a light, medium or heavy mesh, although this is not very accurate. You could specify the diameter of the strut and we could find the closest structure. Generally we can scale the lattice up or down. The length of the struts is adjustable to create different densities within the same lattice node structure. There could be some variations, so we can work with you on that to get the best outcome. Remember there will also need to be a couple of small holes in the part to get the powder out so we need to know where we can put these also. Ideally 1 -2mm diameter is best.




What shape is the lattice?


We have several options available as our preferred standard lattices. Our lattice has balanced properties in all directions. We can include customer generated lattice structures.




Can you take a customer’s solid part and determine the wall thickness and lattice?


First, we will seek some guidance from our customer on what they think is a good starting point. We can create the internal cavity and lattice, however, it is the client’s responsibility to ensure the part meets structural needs. We can suggest a minimum wall thickness and minimum lattice member size but the client must approve these. We can send an STL file of the part back to customers for their own FEA review if required.




Can I create variable wall thickness parts – both with and without lattice?


Talk to us about the best way to achieve this.




Do I need a drain hole for internal cavities – if so what size?


Generally a couple of 1 – 2mm holes is perfect but smaller holes can also work.




What affects part distortion – i.e. total size / solid thickness / sudden thickness changes / overhangs that droop?


The most common cause is solid thickness; this is the main issue however sudden changes in thickness or major feature changes can also have an effect. The sudden changes in thickness and feature change tends to be less of a major problem and any will generally result in a cosmetic rather than structural issue. The solid thickness is the main cause of problem especially where it is over a long distance on the x,y plain (the Z is not an issue).




Do you add support structure to prevent part drooping or distortions during the print?


Yes, we take care of this.




Do I need to orient the part in the way it will be printed or does RAM do this?


Yes, we take care of this.




Can you print a thread, or should I print a tapping hole and cut the thread myself?


Yes, we can print a thread, However, in most cases we need to chase the thread with a tap to clean the surface for the best results. We prefer customers to only put a tapping drill hole in their part to let us add the thread feature. This incurs a small extra fee for our additional time, so it is optional if the customer prefers to finish the part themselves.





50 Paerangi Place, 

Tauriko, 

Tauranga 3171, 

New Zealand

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